Friday I blogged about the primacy of technical excellence with particular emphasis on the snatch and in today’s blog I will appear to contradict myself by coaching a non-standard approach to performing the hang power snatch.  Before the accusations of hypocrisy fly, first hear me out. 

In the sport of Weightlifting the sole goal is to lift the heaviest weight that you can one time with correct form.  In that sport, the hang power snatch is a training tool used to develop your confidence with the second pull allowing you to focus on achieving proper hip contact with the bar without having to worry about other technical challenges such as getting the barbell around your knees in the first pull or pulling yourself under the bar in the third pull.  The hang power snatch is an isolation exercise directed at improving the mechanics of one specific portion of the snatch.  If you are working on developing your snatch for the purpose of achieving a one rep max or developing proficiency as a Weightlifter, then the video below demonstrates exactly how you need to practice your hang power snatch.  Watch the video and do not read any further in this blog, everything you need to know ends here.

In the sport of CrossFit, however, we use the snatch not only to achieve one rep maxes but also as a conditioning tool.  Unlike Weightlifting where the goal is to lift a maximally heavy load one single time, in CrossFit you may be called upon to lift a much lighter load as many as ten times in a row.  In this case, the hang power snatch stops serving as a means to improving your full snatch and becomes the end goal in itself. 

In this format the emphasis is no longer on developing the mechanics that will allow you to most effectively move the heaviest load, the priority for the CrossFit athlete now shifts to how to most effectively and efficiently cycle through a set of 10 hang power snatches.  As you may have already guessed, the answer to this question diverges from the orthodoxy of the Weightlifter.  The technique in the video above correctly demonstrates how you need to train the hang power snatch if you are using it to develop your full snatch technique.  It does not, however, demonstrate the most efficient mechanics for cycling light hang power snatches quickly for reps.

To efficiently move a barbell from a hang position to overhead in one explosive movement, when you no longer need to worry about the technical complications of pulling it from the ground and around your knees and can also forget about the challenges of receiving the bar overhead while deep in a squat, you can now adapt the movement.  The CrossFit competition standards state that the bar must start in the hang position (above the knees) and finish locked out overhead with no press out.  How you get it there is open to interpretation.

The most powerful muscles in your body all cross your hip joint and it is from here that you can generate the most force.  For this reason, to cycle the hang power snatch, you will be better served to receive the bar in the high hang position directly in the crease of the hip and use the explosive opening of your hips to jump it back to overhead each rep.  This movement more closely resembles an overhead kettlebell swing than the traditional hang power snatch.  Weightlifting purists are having fits as they read this.  Because the load is light and you do not need to receive it in a squat, the trajectory of the barbell is less critical.  You will still bend your elbows moderately to avoid a pure arc.  When you bring the barbell back down it will follow the same arc and you will receive it in the crease of your hips bending as you would to receive the kettlebell and immediately opening your hips explosively using the elastic stretch reflex to send the barbell back overhead.

By recruiting your glutes and hamstrings in this way and shortening the barbell travel time you will save energy, feel stronger and cycle more efficiently through your reps.  This no longer resembles the hang power snatch used to develop Weightlifting proficiency, this is now the hang power snatch adapted to CrossFit sport performance.  It remains safe, effective and efficient….for cycling a barbell.  It will not translate into better one rep max snatches.

Does this muddy the waters too much?  If you are just starting out, simply focus on the fundamentals.  For seasoned CrossFitters however, seeing as this is the second time in two weeks that we have seen hang power snatches show up in sets of 10-15 reps at light load, I would not be surprised if we see this skill tested at the 2024 CrossFit Open.  Competitors would do well to develop confidence and competency now in efficiently cycling the barbell.  Monday we will show you how.
This is a very CrossFit Open-eque workout in terms of time domain and movement combination.  We are going to split the class into two heats with one partner counting for the other just as in competition. 

We will test your double unders to see how many you can get in one minute.  That is the number you should use every round of this workout. 

You should select a hang power snatch weight that allows you to complete 10 consecutive reps when you are fresh.

The workout will be very much about heart rate management.  There is no way to hang power snatch without spiking your heart rate so your skill practice today will be learning how to bring your heart rate down while doing double unders!  This is not an easy skill to master but doing so will take your CrossFit game to the next level. 

Warm Up
2 Rounds

Single Unders
Cross Overs
Side Swings
Running Man
10 Snatch Grip Deadlift
10 Hang Power Snatches
10 Shoulder Pass Throughs
10 OHS

1 min DU count
Hang Power Snatch

8 min AMRAP
40 DU
10 Hang Power Snatch